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Self Image in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: an essay by Sean

‘Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or dark images you hold about yourself. They remember your beauty when you feel ugly; your wholeness when you are broken; your innocence when you feel guilty; and your purpose when you are confused.’ Each part of this quotation reflects a specific part of the novel by S.E. Hinton, The Outsiders.

‘Those who love you are not fooled by mistakes you have made or by dark images you hold about yourself’ This is perfectly portrayed after Johnny kills Bob, the Soc.  Although manslaughter is a serious crime, Pony’s brothers, Cherry and the rest of the gang forgive and support the juvenile delinquents.  Johnny and Pony, scared and confused, do not realize that no matter what happens, people who love them will always love them.  The boys think that no one cares for them, so they risk their lives for the children, kids with people who actually care for them.  One might notice that the quote says ‘love’. The Socs hate greasers and vice versa.  After Pony comes out of hiding, everything changes.  Not only does Pony himself change but so does his reputation. When Ponyboy, after the stabbing, is cornered, the Socs identify him as ‘the boy who killed Bob’ and not ‘greaser’. These people are fooled by his mistakes and jump to conclusions, all because the Socs hate Greasers (148).

‘Those who love you remember your beauty when you feel ugly.’  One can feel ugly, literally and figuratively.  In The Outsiders, most of the characters feel“tuff” literally, but most, including Dally, feel ugly figuratively.  Dally feels so ugly that, with the help of the police and his unloaded gun, he kills himself (134).  Why Dally feels ugly is apparent.  Pony says“he got drunk, he rode in rodeos, lied, cheated, stole, rolled drunks, jumped small kids – he did everything.  I did not like him, but I had to respect him” (13) Doing things like this would make most people feel ugly, but not Dally.  Dally feels the most ugly because he cannot save Johnny. So when Johnny dies, so does a big part of Dally, resulting in the ugliest feeling ever.  Dally simply  cannot live without Johnny.

‘Those who love you remember your wholeness when you are broken.’  This is true to life in The Outsiders.  When something bad, like a death occurs,people go through grief and turn from whole to broken quickly.  If people do not know someone is going through grief,they can believe that this person is completely crazy.  This is shown when Pony is talking to Randy, the Soc. ‘“I had it”, Pony told Randy, “I had the knife and killed Bob.”‘ (143) If Randy hadn’t known Pony, then he would have thought Pony was a loon!  In life, when people look at a homeless person, addicted to drugs, they only see this person when they are half.  Most homeless people were whole at one point but then drifted into a state of grief, cutting them in half.  As a bystander, one would not realize this and could jump to conclusions, saying that they are worthless druggies.

‘Those who love you remember your innocence when you feel guilty’. This statement is true throughout the book but mainly in these two places: when Pony meets Cherry and Marcia  and after Johnny kills Bob Sheldon.  One might ask why I would include thee introduction of Cherry but there is a logical explanation for my reasoning. Pony is not like most greasers although at times he feels guilty that he is, indeed, a greaser. Cherry sees through Pony’s label as a greaser, and realizes that he is not guilty for the crimes that most greasers usually commit.  After the death of Bob, Johnny feels horrible ,and guilty, for what he has done. Even though Cherry liked Bob, she did not blame Johnny for the death and realized his innocence.

‘Those who love you realize your purpose when you are confused.’ After Dally lost the only person who loved him, Johnny, he found no purpose to live, and no one gave him any reason to do so. Dally was emotionally confused after Johnny died, which was shown when he stormed out of the hospital. Dally did not know what to do with his life so he decided that since he was now ‘alone’, he couldn’t go on and so committed suicide by cop (134).

Although it is just a book, The Outsiders is true to life and I believe that everyone going through a hard time, or just anyone looking for a good book, should read this novel.

Parenting in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: an essay by Alanna

Some people are good at parenting. Others are poor at parenting. In ‘The Outsiders’ there are Bob’s parents, Johnny’s parents, and Darry, who acts like a parent. Bob’s parents think everything is their fault. Every single thing that goes wrong with Bob, they blame on themselves. Johnny’s parents’ either think everything is Johnny’s fault or they completely ignore Johnny. Darry is like a parent to Ponyboy; after their mom and dad died, Darry took care of everything. ‘The Outsiders’ shows examples of both good and bad parenting.

 Bob’s parents are an example of poor parenting. Bob’s parents were too nice to Bob. When he made mistakes, they’d blame themselves, never laying down the law. “One time he came home drunker than anything. He thought sure they were gonna raise the roof…They thought it was something they’d done. They thought it was their fault – that they’d failed him and driven him to it or something. They took all the blame and didn’t do anything to him” (102-103). All Bob wanted was someone to tell him what to do, and make him realize his mistakes. “That was what he wanted. For somebody to lay down the law, set the limits, give him something solid to stand on”(102). Bob’s parents also gave into everything and let him do whatever he wanted. “They spoiled him rotten… but they gave into him all the time. He kept trying to make someone say ‘No’ and they never did” (102). Bob’s parents are on the extreme side of being nice. To be a good parent, you have to be balanced.

 Johnny’s parents are another example of poor parenting. Johnny’s parents’ were too mean. When Johnny’s parents noticed him, they beat him. His mom cussed and reprimanded Johnny for anything she could think of. His dad beat him bloody when drunk. “We were used to seeing Johnny banged up…”(31). “His father was always beating him up, and his mother ignored him, except when she hacked off at something, and then you could hear her yelling at him clear down at our house”(14). Johnny’s parents are also full of themselves, thinking they have done so much for Johnny. Parenting is more than giving children a house, food, clothes and water. “But I have a right to see him. He’s my son. After all the trouble his father and I’ve gone to raise him, this is our reward! He’d rather see those no-count hoodlums than his own folks…”(108). Jonny’s parents make him feel unimportant and when they do notice him, they beat him. “ ’I think I like it better when the old man’s hittin’ me.’ Johnny sighed. ‘At least then I know he knows who I am. I walk in that house, and nobody says anything. I walk out, and nobody notices. I ain’t got nobody’ “(47). Johnny’s parents are extreme, too, on the mean side.

 Darry is an example of good parenting. He sacrificed his dreams of college and got a job to support the family. “Darry didn’t deserve to work like an old man when he was only twenty. He had been a real popular guy in school; he was captain of the football team and he had been voted Boy of the Year. [He] even [won an] athletic scholarship. And now he didn’t have time between jobs to even think about college” (18). Darry is very protective of Ponyboy; even when he’s angry, he’s actually worried. “Where the heck have you been? I reckon it never occurred to you that your brothers might be worrying their heads off and afraid to call the police because something like that could get you two thrown in a boys’ home quick” (45-46). Darry also wants the best for Ponyboy. He wants Ponyboy to be able to have a better life than Darry. “He would have hollered at me if… I brought home B’s, he wanted A’s, and if I got A’s he wanted them to stay A’s” (15). “Ponyboy you don’t think enough, you don’t realize all Darry’s giving up just to give you a chance he missed out on” (152). Darry has many great parenting qualities.

 Good parenting is about balance. You can’t be too extreme like Bob’s and Johnny’s parents. Kids need to be nagged and told what to do and sometimes reprimanded. But you also have to be gentle with them, treating them like a plant. First for a plant you have to give them the right soil, sunlight and water. Same with kids: you have to give them the right tender, loving care. Each plant needs different amounts of water, soil, sunlight, just like kids need different amounts of everything. Parents should also be patient, not hurrying along the kid to get the ‘reward’.  Kids mature and grow at their own pace. Parents should also be understanding and learn not to jump to conclusions. The way kids are raised affects them. Johnny got beaten and turned out to be soft-spoken and scared all the time. Bob’s parents always took the blame, making Bob want trouble so someone would lay down the law. Parenting is different with every child, but all children need a balance.

How are Parents Portrayed in The Outsiders? an essay by Sophie

In the novel “The Outsiders” by S.E. Hinton, parents of the gang members are portrayed very differently. There are different parenting styles and each has a different effect on children. Johnny’s parents are verbally and physically abusive. Bob’s parents are permissive; enforcing very few rules and allowing him to have and do anything his little heart desires. Darry, who attempts to parent his little brother Ponyboy, is controlling and cold with very high school expectations for his little brother as well as expecting him to make good life choices. All of these parenting styles have negative effects on the characters.    

Johnny’s parents do not give Johnny any love or affection. His alcoholic father beats him with a two by four when he does not approve of something Johnny does, such as coming home late. As a result, Johnny avoids coming home. He often sleeps over at his friend’s or even in vacant lots. The beatings make Johnny extremely fearful. “To this day on Johnny has been the scared and jumpy person he is today” (30). Johnny’s father is unpredictable.  At times he beats Johnny just because he is in a bad mood. Johnny’s mother has cheap cold eyes and refers to her son as being a mistake (108).  When she comes to visit her badly burned son in the hospital she looks at him and says “Why, you’re just a terrible mess. A mess just like the day you were born” (109). Johnny’s Mother’s harsh words hurt and left deep invisible wounds. “I remember Johnny telling me that his mother’s words scarred him. Even if it didn’t show” (108).  Johnny’s parents hurt him physically and emotionally.

Bob’s parent’s are laid back and do not feel the need to set any rules or boundaries for him. His parents never say “no” to him. Furthermore, they take the blame for his behaviour when he gets in trouble with the law or when he comes home drunk. “One time he came home drunker than anything. He thought for sure his parents were gonna raise the roof. You know what they did? They thought it was something they’d done” (102). This type of parenting prevents Bob from taking responsibility for his actions. Bob was killed by a gang member. Perhaps if his parents had had more expectations and set consequences for dangerous behaviour Bob might not have been stabbed to death. “If his old man had just belted him, just once, he might still be alive” (103). In spite of being overly permissive, Bob’s parents loved him. Ponyboy quotes this by saying, “Did Bob’s parents let him run wild because they loved him too much or too little” (141)?

Darry’s parents died when he and his brothers were still quite young. Darry sacrifices his successful school life to parent his little brother Ponyboy. He yells at Ponyboy to do well and has very high expectations for him. Darry wants Ponyboy to get good grades, land a good job and make good life decisions. “Ponyboy I want you to get the chances that I gave up. That why doing your best in school can change your place in life” (15). Darry puts a lot of pressure on Ponyboy to do well. Ponyboy feels that nothing he does is good enough for Darry. “Me and Darry just didn’t dig each other. I could never please him. If I brought home B’s, he wanted A’s, and if I brought home A’s he wanted to make sure they stay A’s” (15). Although Darry does the best he can, he is not able to encourage Ponyboy or display affection towards him. This in turn, makes Ponyboy feel resentful, angry, and unloved.  

Each parenting style has a different effect on children. Dysfunctional families place a great deal of stress on their children. Good parenting helps children from developing many disorders such as drug and alcohol abuse, behaviour problems, anxiety, and depression. Good parents will shower their children with unconditional love, encouragement, and affection. Children will feel safe when fair rules and boundaries are established. Parents who spend quality time with their children let them know that they are important, special and loved. When children feel that they belong and are important to their family, they will not need to seek out a false sense of belonging on the streets such as the characters in “The Outsiders”.

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